We have seen how the DSP leadership uses the phrases “transitional method” and “transitional demands” to justify the public presentation of left reformist politics as something that is consistent with its formally revolutionary socialist politics. The latest example is DSP NE member Simon Butler’s claim in the current edition of Green Left Weekly that “demanding that Australia’s capitalist government guarantee full employment” is “an important transitional demand that can open the road to even more radical developments”.2* In my opinion, such pseudo-Marxist centrism is given a certain “Marxist” authority by the notion, expressed in the 1994 DSP program, that there can actually be such a thing as a “transitional demand”.
Parliamentarism & Reformism
I won’t spend time detailing the actual all-too heinous crimes, betrayals and pro-capitalist actions of the Australian Labor Party (ALP). For a start, I’ve only got 15 minutes, not the 15 hours you’d need to begin. I’m sure Judy and all ISO comrades here would agree in condemning their racist, pro-imperialist, pro-war, pro-boss record, in government and out – although when they’re out they sometimes have to put on a bit of an act.
Ten years after the Russian Revolution that was the inspiration for the formation of the Communist Party of Australia, much had changed in the Soviet Union. Bureaucratism was rampant, Lenin was dead, and Stalin was rapidly pushing aside many of the old Bolshevik leaders. The first workers state had survived, but at a cost.
On October 30, 1920, the Communist Party of Australia was founded at a meeting in Sydney attended by 26 men and women. They represented the most radical of the small socialist groups, militant trade union activists and officials and former members of the Industrial Workers of the World. Their direct inspiration was the Russian Revolution of October 1917 led by Lenin’s Bolshevik party, the first example of workers overthrowing capitalism, taking power in their own hands and setting out on the path of constructing socialism.
Seventy-five years ago, under the impact and inspiration of the October 1917 Russian Revolution, the Communist Party of Australia was founded. It was a modest beginning, but an historic event. The CPA formed in 1920 finally dissolved in 1991, but for most of its life it was the dominant party on the left in Australia and an important force in the workers movement. There are many proud chapters in its history – the numerous trade union struggles led; organising the unemployed, women, Aborigines, young people; important civil liberties fights; and solidarity with international struggles, in Spain, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa and East Timor, to name a few.
This is a time of major upheavals in the world socialist movement. The developments unleashed in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe since Mikhail Gorbachev came to power are leading to possibly the biggest shake-up in the socialist movement since the victory of Stalin and Stalinism in the Soviet Communist party. We are confronted with the possibility of the definitive exposure and defeat of Stalinism, which has shackled the Communist movement since the death of Lenin.